Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Geddy Lee: My Favorite Headache

Following Neil Peart’s self-imposed retirement from music and Rush in particular, Geddy Lee took the opportunity to record a solo album—his first bold departure from the band and brand since appearing on “Take Off” by Bob and Doug MacKenzie.
My Favorite Headache isn’t a radical departure from ‘90s Rush, expect that Geddy wrote all the lyrics and collaborated with fellow Canadian Ben Mink on the music, both writing and performing. (Mink had spent the years since his cameo on Signals by racking up Grammys and kudos with k.d. lang.) Matt Cameron, of Soundgarden and then Pearl Jam, plays the majority of the drums. Still, there’s no mistaking who’s singing, though he’s certainly come a long way from the strangled yowl of a quarter-century before.
The title track burbles with riffing along the lines of Les Claypool in Primus, but this is not a bass-heavy showcase; indeed “The Present Tense” and “Window To The World” sport fairly radio-friendly hooks. “Nothing Is Perfekt” sports both techno touches and an arty string section, plus a piano part in the place of a solo. “Runaway Train” sounds familiar, but keeps it interesting by dropping beats out of the measures.
Geddy had written the occasional lyric before in Rush, yet it’s clear that being Neil Peart’s mouthpiece had an influence on his own approach. That said, “The Angels’ Share” would not have passed the Professor’s muster. “Moving To Bohemia” brings back the burbling bass for an interesting concept (namely, leaving suburbia, utopia, etc.) “Home On The Strange” gets nice and funky, as if he’d been listening to the band Tonic, just as “Slipping” starts as a ballad with a lot of piano and acoustic guitars, then gains tension a la Alice In Chains. Despite its standard rock arrangement, “Still” sounds very much to these ears like a modern Rush song. “Grace To Grace” does too, but seems forced until you realize he’s talking about the Holocaust.
Overall, My Favorite Headache is right in line with the more mainstream tracks from the last handful of Rush albums—the Atlantic years, if you will. It wasn’t a huge seller, suggesting that it was all or nothing for their fans. At the very least, it’s much more enjoyable than Victor.

Geddy Lee My Favorite Headache (2000)—3

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